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Accepted-Work Doctrine Rejected in Arkansas
Description Arkansas high court threw out the accepted-work doctrine which held that once a contractor finished a job and turned it over to the purchaser, the contractor could not be held liable for defective work that caused injury to third parties. Arkansas joins the large majority of other states by rejecting the rule.
Topic Torts
Key Words Construction; Accepted-Work Doctrine
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts A driver was rendered quadriplegic when his truck overturned on a highway exit ramp. He sued the contractors that built the ramp for the Arkansas highway department, claiming negligence based on how the ramp was built and because the ramp was not built to contract specifications. Trial court granted summary judgment for contractors under the accepted-work doctrine. Truck driver appealed.
Decision Reversed. The accepted-work doctrine is a judicially created rule (abandoned in many states), which holds that after a contractor has turned work over to, and it has been accepted by, the buyer, the contractor incurs no further liability to third parties due to the condition of the work. Liability rests with the property owner. That doctrine is outmoded and "has become virtually extinct in American jurisprudence. Liability should be based on foreseeability, not privity of contract."
Citation Suneson v. Holloway Construction Co., 992 S.W.2d 79 ( Sup. Ct., Ark., 1999)

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